Monasteries of Kord
The monasteries to Kord are more akin to war colleges than the sparse monastic life many imagine when they think of monks. There are two general orders within the temples: priests, and initiates, with less strict gradations of authority within each order. The temples only elevate those experienced with true combat to places of power within their walls, so the priests of Kord are often veteran warlords or seasoned adventurers (although they may have begun their early days trained in that or another temple of Kord). The temples are generally situated in or near large urban centers and are found on all the main continents of Keretore.
With enigmatic selectiveness, each temple invites in a handful of potential initiates every year, only even considering those who they feel have the greatest potential as warriors. The priests are well known to select without preference for race, nationality, or even pre-existing worship of other deities. Although they do make a point of not inviting anyone who has beliefs leaning strongly toward good or evil, true neutrality is not necessary. The expressly stated goal of the temples is crafting living statues to Kord out of the warriors – breathing symbols of everything Kord embodies. To this end, they train the initiates and hone their natural fighting talents to a razor edge. Those who leave the temples are known for their battle prowess and general combat abilities, even if their individual methods and techniques vary wildly. What the trained initiates go on to do in life afterward is less important to the temples. Many are actively recruited by militaries and mercenary groups, while others go on to seek treasure or fame adventuring.
For this reason, the temples hold an odd place for many governments. They pointedly remain neutral in all matters political, and the military contracts they take on to fund their monastic lifestyles are generally against non-contentious foes such as undead infestations or kobolds. Nonetheless, many a guard captain or military commander desires to see their men accepted to a temple of Kord (or perhaps even their son or daughter), and it is not uncommon for leaders to attempt to woo the priests, even if it is well known to have no (apparent) effect on their choices. Thus, even in the racially conservative kingdom of Breland, the Gorinchem temple’s practice of admitting many non-human initiates is accepted by the authorities. On the other hand, this (sometimes grudging) respect for the temple and its monks is held less in the lower ranks, and off-duty guards are known to say things over a few too many ales which they later regret.
At least on Breland, this tenuous balance is the sort of thing that may be tipped one way or another in times of war or strife, either leading toward strong reliance on the temple’s abilities, or staunch rebuke of their absolute neutrality. The Gorinchem temple itself has been vacated and reinhabited several times over its long history, with generals emboldened by martial law attempting to kick out non-human initiates, only to be later overruled in peacetime by clearer headed leaders. Although the temples’ monks are usually cooperative enough to simply all leave if asked, attempts at removal by force have historically been bloody affairs.
In the case of a siege, the Monasteries usually send one priest with several of the less experienced initiates out secret exits with important documents and weapons. The remaining priests stay behind and fight (often to the death), along with any initiates who chose not to surrender. Because the Monasteries pride themselves on not taking sides, they never demand that their initiates defend the Temples—although it is very rare that they choose to do otherwise.